Cablegate: Unsc: Unscr 1559 Consultations - Un Envoy Cites

Published: Fri 31 Oct 2008 11:24 PM
DE RUCNDT #1000/01 3052324
O 312324Z OCT 08
E.O. 12958: N/A
REF: STATE 114981
1. (SBU) Summary: Terje Roed-Larsen briefed the Security
Council October 30 that significant progress had been
achieved in the implementation of UNSCR 1559 with the
election of Lebanese President Sleiman, the adoption of a
Lebanese electoral law, and the Lebanese-Syrian agreement to
establish diplomatic relations. He stressed that there was
no progress toward the disbanding and disarmament of Lebanese
and non-Lebanese militias, as required by both the 1989 Taif
Agreement and UNSCR 1559. He underlined the serious threat
that both Hizballah and other non-Lebanese militias pose to
the Lebanese government and called for all parties who
maintain ties with Hizballah, in particular Syria and Iran,
to support its transformation into a political party.
Council members largely concurred with Larsen's statements
and several agreed that their main concern was the lack of
progress on disarming the militias. During consultations,
Larsen spoke more frankly and stressed the fragility of the
Lebanese state and the need for continued international
involvement. He spoke against combining the UNSCR 1701 and
1559 mandates on Lebanon for UN personnel security reasons
since 1559 aggressively deals with militia disarmament while
1701 involves peacekeepers. The Russian DPR used the
consultations to comment on the Syria-Iraq border incident at
Abu Kamal and called for the "proper condemnation" of the
violation of a member state's sovereignty. End summary.
Larsen briefs Council on
UNSCR 1559 implementation
2. (SBU) Terje Roed-Larsen, the Special Envoy of the
Secretary-General for the implementation of UNSCR 1559,
briefed an October 30 meeting of the Security Council on the
Secretary-General's eighth semi-annual report on UNSCR 1559.
(Note: The Mission e-mailed both the text of the report and
Larsen's briefing to IO/UNP.) Larsen reminded the Council
that UNSCR 1559 is a support mechanism of the Security
Council for the principles the Lebanese committed themselves
to in the 1989 Taif Agreement -- the withdrawal of all
foreign troops from the country and the disarming and
disbanding of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias. On the
positive side, Larsen welcomed the progress over the last six
months, including the election of President Sleiman, the
adoption of a new electoral law, and the October 15
announcement by the Foreign Ministers of Lebanon and Syria to
establish diplomatic relations. He said he looked forward to
their opening of embassies and the full delineation of their
common border, particularly where the border is uncertain or
disputed. He said the UN remains concerned with the "general
porosity of the Syrian-Lebanese borders" and the permanent
presence of para-military infrastructures belonging to
Palestinian militia straddling the border. He noted the
continued violation of Lebanese airspace by Israeli aircraft
and Israel's continued occupation of northern Ghajar, in
violation of Lebanon's sovereignty and UNSCR 1701. He said
the Secretary-General received a letter October 16 from
Lebanese Prime Minister Siniora expressing concerns at the
threats by Israel against Lebanon. Larsen said the
Secretary-General is disturbed by the escalation of threats
between Israel and Hizballah and urges all parties to cease
their public discourse.
3. (SBU) Larsen stressed that the events in May "served as a
shocking illustration of how armed groups outside the control
of the Government of Lebanon brought the country to a near
state of collapse." He stressed that there was no tangible
progress towards the disbanding and disarming of militias, as
required by both the Taif Agreement and UNSCR 1559. He
stressed that Hizballah remains the most significant Lebanese
militia and that it maintains a "massive para-military
infrastructure separate from the state, including a secure
network of communications." He said the Secretary-General
"calls on Hizballah to comply with all relevant SC
resolutions, and urges all parties which maintain close ties
with it, in particular Syria and Iran, to support its
transformation into a political party proper." Larsen
highlighted the serious threat posed by non-Lebanese armed
groups, both Palestinian militia and the "emergence and
apparent strengthening of extremist elements and foreign
fighters based largely in and around Tripoli." He noted that
the "scares from last spring" may have prompted a rearmament
of certain militias. He cited with concern the "emerging
pattern of lethal attacks against Lebanese Armed Forces, one
of the most prominent symbols of authority of the state." He
reiterated the Secretary-General's conviction that the
disarmament of Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias should
taken place through a political process that results in the
Lebanese government's monopoly on the use of force.
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Council members express concern
with lack of militia disarmament
4. (SBU) All fifteen Security Council members welcomed the
Secretary-General's report and reiterated many of Larsen's
points in their statements during consultations, October 30.
They lauded President Sleiman's election, the adoption of the
new electoral law, and the agreement establishing diplomatic
relations between Lebanon and Syria. South Africa repeated
its long-held assertion that the delineation of borders and
establishment of diplomatic relations are bilateral matters
and should not be the purview of the Council. Most members
(with the exception of South Africa, Libya, and Indonesia)
agreed that their main concern was the lack of progress on
disarming Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias, especially
Hizballah. Libya emphasized that disarmament is an internal
matter for the Lebanese government, and Indonesia said such a
step must be through political dialogue. Several, including
the U.S., Italy, Belgium, Indonesia, and Croatia called for
greater Lebanese efforts on border security and suggested
international assistance/capacity-building. Many delegations
raised UNSCR 1701 issues, including France, Belgium,
Indonesia, and Vietnam on the need for Israel's withdrawal
from northern Ghajar and progress on the Sheba'a Farms.
Libya specifically condemned Israel's continued occupation of
northern Ghajar and Sheba'a and its overflights of Lebanon.
Burkina Faso and Indonesia also noted the repeated Israeli
overflights of Lebanon as a violation. Costa Rica called for
the Council to be objective and take a stand on both Israel
and Syria's violations of its resolutions. (Note: Mission
drew heavily on reftel for U.S. remarks and added language
concurring with the report's conclusion on the threats posed
by non-Lebanese armed groups and noting U.S. support to
UNRWA's emergency appeal for Lebanon, to which the
Secretary-General's report refers. End note.)
Larsen stresses fragility of
Lebanese state and need for
continued international involvement
5. (SBU) Larsen expressed his views more frankly at the end
of the consultations in response to several questions posed
by Ambassador Wolff. He said that the Council should be
incredibly proud of what it has done in Lebanon. He said
that without the Council's involvement, Israel would never
have withdrawn, there would never have been parliamentary
elections, nor Presidential elections in 2008. He stressed,
"The international component has been crucial and will be in
the future." He cited opinion polls commissioned in July by
the International Peace Institute that showed 90 percent
support for the Doha Agreement, 97 percent support for the
rejection of force, 74 percent support for the UN, and 80
percent support for UNIFIL. While the Lebanese state has
made real strides, he said, it is fragile and remains
vulnerable because of the militias and their rearmament. He
said the international community needs to continue its work
in support of the Lebanese government. He stressed that such
support does not violate Lebanon's sovereignty since it is an
international demonstration of support for the Taif Agreement
and helps prevent destabilization and violence in Lebanon.
Larsen urges against combining
Council mandates on Lebanon
6. (SBU) The Panamanian DPR raised whether the UNSCR 1559
implementation process should be combined with the UNSCR 1701
process since the "comments tend to be the same." He
suggested grouping the two together as a single debate or
looking at how to group the issues in a more coherent manner.
The South African expert, who delivered his state's remarks,
spoke later and suggested that the Council should assess
whether to restrict its remarks only to the specific
resolution at hand or whether to merge the two resolutions.
Larsen responded to both remarks stating that while it might
be good in theory to group together the resolutions, in
practice they had to be kept separate for personnel security
reasons. He said that UNSCR 1559 is an aggressive resolution
that calls for the disbanding and disarmament of militias.
If "lumped with UNSCR 1701, it would politicize
peacekeepers," he emphasized. (Comment: Mission agrees with
Larsen's concerns about UN personnel security if UNSCRs 1559
and 1701 are combined. However, Mission believes it is worth
having the Council's political coordinators review the
frequency of reports and adjust their timing to reflect a
more coherent approach to the Council's work on Lebanon and
forestall Council fatigue on Lebanon. End comment.)
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Russia uses 1559 consultations to
comment on Syria-Iraq border incident
7. (SBU) Russia was the only country that raised the
incident on the Syrian-Iraqi border at Abu Kamal during the
consultations. The Russian DPR, speaking second, raised the
matter at the end of his remarks. He said Russia viewed the
event, which he ascribed to the U.S. military, with concern.
Even though the action may have been taken to combat
terrorism, he said there was a need for "proper condemnation"
of the violation of a member state's sovereignty. He then
noted that there are appropriate mechanisms established for
regional security, such as the Working Group on (Border)
Security set up at Sharm al-Shaykh in 2007 and he said he
hoped these could be used in the future. No other Council
members referred to the Russian remarks in their statements.
Ambassador Wolff, speaking sixth, did not address the Russian
remarks in the U.S. statement.
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